THE Greek government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is presenting to the Vouli (Greek parliament) another austerity measures Bill. The vote is to be taken this Wednesday.
The Bill almost doubles the farmers’ annual tax rate (from 13 to 23 per cent) and obliterates the cheap petrol rate for tractors. Farmers would be called to pre-pay the full tax amount due. The Bill changes judiciary procedures which will make it easier for banks to repossess homes and businesses.
Last Friday, the European Union approved a ‘bridge’ loan of 7.16bn euros to Greece through the European Financial Stability Mechanism. This would be used to pay back the IMF and the European Central Bank.
The third bail-out to Greece of some 85bn euros is being worked out and it will be channelled through the Eurozone’s ESM (European Stability Mechanism). The IMF have stated that they cannot participate in the bailout unless there is a generous ‘haircut’ and restructuring of Greece’s public debt of some 320bn euros. The German government has dismissed this as contrary to Eurozone conventions.
Also last Friday, Tsipras carried out a reshuffle of the Greek Cabinet so as to get rid of the four Left Platform ministers who voted against the austerity Bill. They were replaced by three SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) and one ANEL (Independent Greeks, the junior partner in the coalition government) deputies.
All of them had previously made statements of the necessity for Tsipras’ decision to accept the new EC-IMF-ECB austerity agreement. Last Sunday, shop workers staged yet another national strike against Sunday working called by the Federation of Greek Shop Workers. The Federation, led by SYRIZA supporters, refused to organise mobilisations although it had declared its opposition to the new austerity accord.
But hundreds of shop workers organised by the Coordination for Action and the Bookshops Workers Union carried out mass picketing in the main Athens shopping street as well as inside shopping malls.